IAF scrambles jets over Amritsar to tail Air France aircraft

IAF scrambles jets over Amritsar to tail Air France aircraft

With the Indian Air Force(IAF) keeping a hawk's vigil at the Indo-Pak border, the MiGs swung into action after the aircraft switched a wrong communication code.

"Taking prompt action after our radars detected an unknown aircraft over our territory, we scrambled two of our MiG 29 air defence fighter jets from Adampur air base to intercept the aircraft at around 0610 hours in the morning, as it had switched on a wrong Identify Friend or Foe(IFF) code," IAF officials said here.

"The mission was aborted soon after the fighters took off as the French aircraft had switched over to the right codes," they added.

IFF codes are meant to help the ground-based radars to automatically differentiate between friendly and enemy aircraft.

The French Airliner's Airbus A-343 aircraft had entered India after flying over Lahore in Pakistan.

"After the aircraft switched over to the right codes, it was allowed to proceed towards its destination and the IAF jets came back to its base," they said.

After the Mumbai terror attacks, the IAF has been keeping a tight vigil on the borders to thwart any attempt by non-state actors to carry out any 9/11 type aerial strikes in India.

An official in Amritsar said the incident occurred when the plane was flying at a height of 37,000 feet.

After it was confirmed that the Air France civilian flight had entered the Indian air space without following necessary proacedures the aircraft was allowed to continue its journey to Singapore via Bangkok from Paris, Air Marshal P K Barbora said in Chandigarh.

"The Paris-Bangkok-Singapore commercial passenger aircraft was not aware that it had mistakenly entered the Indian air space without following the laid-down procedures. Our radars picked up that a suspect aircraft had entered over Amritsar. The IAF scrambled its fighters which forced the aircraft to move out from the Indian airspace after it was confirmed that it violated procedures due to mistake," the Air Marshal added.

Sources said the pilot of aircraft was ordered by the fighter jets to ground his plane.
However, the pilot of the "suspect" aircraft identified that it was a Air France commercial flight which was on its way to Singapore through Pakistan air space, sources said. The pilot also confirmed that the aircraft had mistakenly entered Indian air space without following the set procedures.

"Once it was confirmed that it was a scheduled flight which had mistakenly failed to follow the procedures of air space it was let off," Barbora said.

The fighter jets were given instructions to "break off and return to its base", an official release said, adding that a formal report of the incident has been sent to the AAI (Airports Authority of India).

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